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IoT – It’s all about connectivity

Much of the current discussion about the Internet of Things (IoT) focuses on platforms and applications. However, connectivity, which is also important in practice, is often neglected.

Truism: Even the “smartest” application is often worthless if the flow of data between the networked objects is not reliable, secure and affordable. There are various possibilities for connecting “things”, i.e. devices, applications and sensors to the IoT, whereby wired solutions play only a limited role. The industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in most solutions still requires wireless connectivity. The solutions for overcoming short distances range from Bluetooth, NFC, RFID or WLAN to less familiar solutions such as Zigbee or Z-Wave.

NB IoT: transitional solution up to 5G

With a broad coverage, which extends into remote areas, mobile communications is usually the preferred transmission medium. In particular, Narrowband IoT (NB IoT) technology based on the Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network protocol is an interesting solution. Because of its numerous advantages, NB IoT in the IoT environment is considered to be the transitional technology, until around 2020 when the first 5G networks are expected to be available.

For example, NB IoT can be deployed in existing LTE networks via software upgrades and is able to connect millions of end devices in a network. Other benefits include low power consumption of NB-IoT-enabled endpoints, allowing battery life of up to ten years, low module and maintenance costs, low latency, high building penetration, and the ability to transfer data over long distances.

Of course, there are also limitations: As the name Narrowband already suggests, the focus is not necessarily on high data rates – the peak in the uplink and downlink is around 200 Kbit/s. In addition, the technology is currently still in the roll-out phase with the various carriers. Although this is progressing relatively quickly, it can still take a while to reach nationwide connectivity via NB IoT, depending on the carrier. (National) roaming is theoretically conceivable, but this technology is still in an early implementation phase.

This article continues on computerwoche.de in German.

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